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Photos: ‘Showbiz Roast’ of Frank Marino at Stratosphere Showroom — Effeminate, fiery and funny


Christopher DeVargas

Mark Shunock of “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian makes a surprise performance with the dancers from “Divas Las Vegas” at the Quad during the “Showbiz Roast” of Frank Marino at Stratosphere Showroom on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.

‘Showbiz Roast’ of Frank Marino

Las Vegas Sun reporter John Katsilometes takes the stage during the Showbiz Roast of Frank Marino inside the theater at the Stratosphere, Friday Oct 4, 2013. Proceeds from the event go toward Make-a-Wish of Southern Nevada. Launch slideshow »
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Frank Marino takes the stage during his “Showbiz Roast” at Stratosphere Showroom on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.

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Roastmaster Marc Savard shares a moment with roastee Frank Marino during the "Showbiz Roast" at Stratosphere Showroom on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. Proceeds from the event went toward Make-a-Wish Foundation of Southern Nevada.

When you are in the makeup chair, those pasting your face with cosmetics tell you where to look. It’s usually “up” so that they can dab at your lower eyelids with tiny, powder-tipped brushes.

So I heard rather than watched at Andy Walmsley’s third and, from what I could glean, most-entertaining-yet “Showbiz Roast,” this of Frank Marino, star of “Divas Las Vegas” at the Quad.

I may not have been in an ideal circumstance to enjoy what was playing out onstage, but what was happening behind-the-scenes as I was being worked over for more than an hour by a quartet of makeup artists (Lana Reiss, Lindsey Dimick, Raven Rex Franco and Shalynn Monrose performing the handiwork) would have been a great production, too.

At one point, I was able to lift an eye to catch Skye Dee Miles applying her pasties. My colleague Robin Leach ducked in to have his wig, which seemed pulled from Vicki Lawrence’s wardrobe closet on “Mama’s Family,” adjusted to look “natural.”

Brian Thomas was pulled into a long tiger suit and rehearsed lines as an effeminate Montecore. Standing by was Siegfried-ian puppeteer Anthony Rais. Matteo Amieva, Maestro in “Believe,” showed up, and the first word from the dressing room was, “We just need to make him look like a little old lady. That’s it. Should be easy.”

But finding a place for Maestro to conceal his 9-inch stage prop wouldn’t be so easy. Thankfully, his ribald performance as Frank’s “housekeeper,” during which he was lifted into a handstand as a balloon was inflated from his underwear, was followed by a more traditional song-and-dance number by the cast of “Jersey Boys.”

Traditional until they dropped trou and showed off their boxers.

The roaring “It’s Raining Men” starring Miles and the show-closing “As Good As It Gets” from Melody Sweets, the Green Fairy of “Absinthe,” closed the show. From my vantage point in the wings, it all played out in a haze, but I did get a chance to hear Louie Anderson’s fantastic off-the-cuff segment and got a good look at Lon Bronson (a vision in a blonde wig) and the band. Bassist Josef Bobula was cloaked in a kind of Carmen Miranda getup. Violinist Nina DiGregorio was dressed like a little mobster.

What was evident as I walked onstage with nine members of Marino’s “Divas Las Vegas” cast was that the Stratosphere Showroom was full. The stage was loaded with Vegas celebs and assorted newsmakers. The primary roastees were Plaza headliner Louie Anderson, “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian star Mark Shunock, Frankie Scinta of “The Scintas” at the D Las Vegas; Laugh Factory at the Tropicana headliner Murray Sawchuck; comic Shayma Tash; Broadway performer and Piero’s restaurant resident singer Pia Zadora; Thunder From Down Under at Excalibur host Marcus Deegan; and the ever-Ubiquitous Robin Leach.

Shunock returned in black briefs (and he does enjoy appearing in public in his underwear) for a wild version of “YMCA.” Leach tossed out a quite-hilarious impression of Julia Child. Piero’s songstress Zadora introduced herself by using her Clark County Detention Center inmate number (a reference to her arrest in June on charges of battery and coercion; she has since been ordered by the court to complete alcohol and impulse control counseling).

As for my “Top 10 Headlines You’ll Never Read About Frank Marino” bit with the “Divas” folks, I was struck at the great adaptability of these gentlemen. During rehearsals, I was joined by a bunch of guys. But for the show … where were the men who rehearsed several hours before the show? Where were Larry Edwards and Derrick Barry? Dressed convincingly as Tina Turner and Britney Spears!

For the No. 2 “Headline,” which was, “Alex says: ‘On our wedding night, I will be thinking of Joan Rivers!’ ” Barry performed an impromptu impression of Rivers. (Special thanks, publicly, to Edwards for the lend of the black-and-white sequined gown I wore onstage and, wow, did I never think I'd ever write that sentence.)

V Theater comic hypnotist Marc Savard was an inspired choice as emcee. He balanced his expert comedic delivery with a nonplussed disposition, as if to say, "I can't believe what's going on up here!" You get the same refined hilarity out of Savard's show at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, too.

At the center was Marino, and he looked divine. His rebuttal bit was a bait-and-switch exercise, as he said that he was so grateful that everyone turned out, prefacing his jabs with, “I was going to tease (so-and-so) for (some reason), but I’m not going to do that!” As in, “I was going to make fun of Murray Sawchuck’s career, so it’s a good thing you don’t have one … but I’m not going to do that!”

My favorite roast-related moment was actually Wednesday night, as I took in a “Divas” performance at the Quad Showroom. Beforehand, I ran into Frank’s lovely mother, Mary. I asked Mary if there was any undisclosed information about Frank we could use to grill him during the roast. You know, in the spirit of the show.

“I’ll think about it,” she said. “Talk to me after the show.”

After the “Divas” performance, which was customarily funny and flashy, Mary produced this:

“I got nothin’. To me, he’s perfect.”

Hard to argue with Mary. She was in the audience for the roast, too, staying up way late on a night befitting the king (and queen) of the Strip.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at

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